Book Review: Can You See Me? By Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott.

We've spent a lot of time over the last few months learning more and educating ourselves on things that matter. The Black Lives Matter movement has opened our eyes to so much that we were unintentionally ignorant to. We still have a lot more to do and learn. In the process though it made us stop and really see other areas, other communities and other people and we couldn't help but wonder if we are doing enough for them too. In short, the main thing we have been asking ourselves lately is, 'Are we being inclusive at all times?' I'll explain more in a minute, but let me start by saying that this book is a MUST READ for everyone. 

The Blurb.

With diary entries written by eleven-year-old Libby Scott, based on her own experiences of autism, this pioneering book, written in collaboration with esteemed author Rebecca Westcott, has been widely praised for its realistic portrayal of autism.

Tally is eleven years old and she's just like her friends. Well, sometimes she is. If she tries really hard to be. Because there's something that makes Tally not the same as her friends. Something she can't cover up, no matter how hard she tries: Tally is autistic.

Tally's autism means there are things that bother her even though she wishes they didn't. It means that some people misunderstand, her and feel frustrated by her.

People think that because Tally's autistic, she doesn't realise what they're thinking, but Tally sees and hears - and notices - all of it. And, honestly? That's not the easiest thing to live with.

My Review.

I nearly cried four times reading this book and that was before I even got to chapter five. I've been in childcare for the last fifteen years and I've come across autistic children, but it hasn't been until recently that I've really spent time with an autistic child more and got to know them well. This is Lucy's job right now and I cannot tell you how proud I am of her, because she has been absolutely incredible for the boy that she works 1:1 with. You know the biggest thing that she does, besides the encouraging him and making maths and English fun. She makes this little boy happy, she listens to him and lets him be him! The highlight of my day is walking past the playground and seeing them running around playing dinosaurs or sat under a tree on a rainy day chatting. 

I best start talking about this book now, because I'm in danger of rambling about Luc, but honestly if you could be a fly on the wall! Ugh! It's because of this connection though, that I felt extra passionate when reading this book. My heart broke for Tally and I just wanted to be there for her and to protect her. I felt like I had a friend and I miss her world now I've finished the book. This also made me sad, because I felt like I've not been doing enough to learn over the years. But now that I can see things first hand, it's made me think about autistic children, especially autistic children in main stream schools. It's the old saying of unless it happens to you or someone you know, then you don't really think about it. This book, ' A Kind Of Spark,' and the movements going on today have made me realise how this can no longer be acceptable. 

We need to read books like this so that we can pass less judgement, so that we can think before we speak, so that we can be aware of who is around us. We then need our children to read these books to help them understand, to gain knowledge and to be kinder and have more empathy. I do not like bullies of any shape or kind. I don't think anyone deserves to be bullied. I went to high school, I know what it's like, but in Tally's case it literally made my blood boil. This book bought to my attention something we'd recently been talking about at school and that's whether we should label kids and tell other kids that this person is autistic etc. Tally has her own thoughts on that, which I won't spoil, but while I was in two minds about it, it made me think that whether we do or don't know if someone is autistic, we should at least know more about it. Our children should learn more about it from a young age. Not so they can go around labelling people, but so that if they were to see certain behaviours then they are equipped with the knowledge to understand. Moreover, just teaching kids that we all learn differently (without labels) can ensure that they don't laugh when someone struggles to answer a maths questions or speaks differently to them. 

We live in a world where we are too quick to judge and to have our opinions, but these more often than not, don't help anyone. If we all read this book, had more books like this on the shelves and took the time to highlight and show the beauty in the world, not just the images and types of people magazines and movies always show us, then the world as a whole would be more inclusive and Tally wouldn't have to experience high school like she does. You can't read this book and not feel something. 

It's okay to teach our children about people in wheelchairs or who may have a physical disability, which we only often do when we actually come across it when walking down the street or are at a restaurant. (I know I don't have kids but I'm talking from my own childhood experiences and the education system.) How often do we talk to our kids about Autism, ADHD, Asperger's, Tourette's? Do we ever inform them about what they can't see or are we letting them grow up thinking, 'That person's weird.' or staring because someone is stimming or speaking when they can't help it? Are we allowing them to exclude children because they don't know how to play with them? Are we as adults and teachers enforcing rules that don't make sense for a child who is on the spectrum? Are we listening to their families, being open and helpful if that child is late to school? Are we taking the time to actually think before we speak or to consider what could have gone on at home before school? 

I apologise that this has turned into a rant more than a review, but I want to take steps to do better and to teach better, which is why I'm sharing my thoughts and this book. It's heart-warming as well as heart-breaking. It's a brilliant read and I'm so happy for Libby that her diary was published. Now I just want her to meet Taylor Swift if she hasn't already! Please read this book. Please pass it on. We can make the world a more inclusive place, free from bullying, free from judgement, we just have to start within our own walls and communities. 

Pick up and pass on 'Can You See Me?' today!

Happy Reading!

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